retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Jacksonville Business Journal reports that Shipt - the grocery delivery service that has gotten a lot of attention recently because of its relationship with Publix - currently is working to open in one new city a week.

According to the story, "Shipt selects its next location based on the amount of emails, tweets and phone calls they get asking for them to bring their service to a certain city. It's how the Birmingham, Alabama-based company has wound up in some unusual cities for a startup, like Phoenix and Sarasota, Florida."

The story says that while Shipt does business exclusively with Publix in markets where the company operates, it will work with other food retailers in markets in which Publix does not have stores.

The business model works this way: "Shipt members pay a $99 per year membership fee (although the company is offering Jacksonville a reduced rate of $49 per year leading up to Oct. 28's launch) and orders their Publix items via the Shipt app. For purchases of $35 or more, delivery is free. The customer selects a window of delivery, and keeps in contact with their shopper in the event one of the goods a customer is requesting is out of stock."
KC's View:
Every once in a while I'll get interviewed and asked how big I think the e-grocery market is going to get. My response is that I have no idea ... this isn't my first rodeo, and I know how easy it is for bubbles to burst. But I do think that stuff like Shipt, regardless of whether it is an adequate and viable long-term solution for Publix and other chains, points to the steady growth of the sector ... the eventual total percentage matters less than the fact that e-grocery seems more accessible, more viable and more mainstream with every passing day.